Vermont’s Haskell Library
And Opera House is right smack dab
on the border between Canada
and the USA, which makes it the only place you can check out a book, catch a show, and defect
to a foreign country without ever
leaving the building. Hello. Nancy Rumery?
That’s me. Yes, and here we are
at the Haskell Library and Opera House.
That’s correct. Welcome. We’re standing on
either side of the Canadian/U.S. border. That’s correct.
Why the heck did they build a building
right on the border? Seems like that would raise
some flags for some people. It was built purposefully
on the border to serve Americans
and Canadians equally. And when somebody comes to the library
from Canada, do they have to go through customs?
No, at this time and throughout our history,
our Canadian patrons Have simply walked around
the building and entered the door,
which is physically located in Vermont,
And, uh, they come and go,
and we play this little game
where we pretend nobody actually left Canada.
Very, very unique– As far as we know,
this is the only public building
that’s built directly on the border
between the United States and Canada. Let me just ask you this.
If I cross this line, Which I’m doing right now–
Mm-hmm. And I’m in Canada,
I could– I could demand asylum,
couldn’t i? I could claim
refugee status. Um, yeah, you’d have to
go back through Vermont to get out of
the building. So, you’re–
I’m willing to do that to make a point. (speaking in French) Ahh, you come here
quite often? Uh, oui.
(speaking in French) Let’s start
in English now. (chuckles)
Yes, I do. I come, uh,
I don’t know, once every
second week, I would say. Yeah. Uh-huh. Uh-uh.
And I enjoy coming here.
And you’re treated well by Americans?
Oh, I-I don’t ask-ask people’s nationality.
I-I think everybody here is nice.
Everything is in two languages.
We do have bilingual signage
throughout the building. It’s odd to have a library in the same building
as an opera, isn’t it?
Did they– is that just coagulating
for economics or– it– well, it was.
Um, there are a lot of these sort of combined
cultural institutions in this part of New England.
Well, if i went to City Hall,
I’d find the movie theater.
Is that what you’re saying? In some towns, you might. Rick, you work here at
the, uh, at the opera, huh? Well, I really
don’t work here. I volunteer.
I currently have one foot in Canada
And one in the United States,
Don’t I? That’s right. Do you have
your passport? I actually do.
Oh, well, you don’t need it.
Once you’re in the building.
Oh, oh, I’m okay? You’re okay.
Yeah. This is the only theater
in the world, you know, that you can do this. Was this built by
Canadians or by the USA? I think it was built,
uh, by both– Canadians and the U.S.
They worked together in a sign of cooperation,
international cooperation, in a way.
Exactly. Let’s walk into Canada, shall we? Okay. Uh, look at that drop. 111 years old– You realize that.
That’s the original curtain. It’s incredibly beautiful,
and-and-and the artwork above it.
I bet the acoustics are great, too, huh?
The acoustics are almost perfect in here. Is there a customs
guy right out in front of the library,
from what I hear? Well, it would be
Homeland Security. David, you just came over from the Canadian side.
Yes, that’s right. Yeah.
How’s the weather over here?
Same as here, cold. I noticed you wanted
to stay off the street and on the sidewalk here.
Why is it? Well, because here
I’m on the territory of the-the library. Have you ever gone
out on the street Just to harass
these guys? Hey, I’m in America!
Nothin’ like that? No, I wouldn’t do that.
No. No. No. Mrs. Haskell was
the benefactress. It was her idea.
It was her money to build this institution
right here on the border. And there were some
pictures up in the opera of some guy named Hinman
And some guy named Stewart. They looked very
unhappy to be here. They–
(chuckles) Those were Mrs. Haskell’s grandfathers.
I think they had very bad teeth.
If I was to walk down this aisle, Nancy,
And throw myself through that window,
I would be in Canada, Legally.
You would be in Canada. Any tensions between Canadians
and United States on the border here?
Not that I know of. You realize if
there was war declared between the two countries,
you would be ground zero. (chuckles)
I don’t– I don’t see
too much activity like that happening
In the library.